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Used Volkswagen Golf Review: 2013 to 2019 (Mk7) - Interior, comfort and safety

Supremely comfortable and quiet inside, the Golf Mk7 also impresses with the sheer class of its interior design and construction

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Interior quality has always been a Volkswagen strong suit and the Golf Mk7 is no exception to this rule. As soon as you climb aboard – whether it’s an entry-level model or a high-performance version – the first thing to strike you is how classy the interior looks and feels. And how well made.

What’s the Golf Mk7 like inside?

The wraparound dashboard is finished in the kind of high-quality plastics you just don’t expect in this class, creating a greater sense of occasion than pretty much any other family hatchback. The materials used are of a higher grade than those found in rivals such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra – soft-touch finishes abound and metal-effect highlights add visual interest, even in out-of-sight places where some rivals cut corners by using cheaper plastics.

Few cars at any price have a driving environment that’s as easy to navigate and quickly understandable as Mk7 Golf’s and the controls and switchgear operate smoothly and with reassuring precision. The car’s 2017 facelift and improvements brought even greater clarity and order to the instruments.

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Although the driver’s seat appears a bit flat when you slide behind the steering wheel, it provides plenty of support over long distances. The driving position is simply superb, with height adjustment for the seat allowing people of all shapes and sizes to get comfortable. On first acquaintance the ride seems on the firm side, yet it doesn’t take long to discover that it is in fact quite supple and well controlled. Most of the Golf’s engines are quiet, the 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine exceptionally so – it’s subdued enough to highlight a little wind noise from around the external mirrors that you might not otherwise notice.

What’s on the equipment list?

The upmarket interior ambience is supported by a reasonable level of standard equipment. Even entry-level S models get an eight-inch colour touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard, which adds to the Golf’s sense of sophistication. LED daytime running lights, automatic emergency braking to protect pedestrians, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity and air-conditioning that includes a cooled glovebox, are fitted to all models.

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However, the S doesn’t seem such good value compared with rivals such as the SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia, both of which offer rather more standard equipment for a comparable price.

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This disparity is reduced a little in the Match Edition, our favourite Golf trim level. It adds alloy wheels, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, adaptive cruise control, power-folding door mirrors and both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. Dual-zone climate control, LED headlights and the Winter Pack, which includes heated front seats, also feature.

GT Edition models add a bit of luxury, while the R-Line Edition will appeal if you fancy the sporty looks of the high performance Golfs but are less keen on their higher running costs. Inside, extra equipment includes a black roof lining, piano black trim, two-tone sports seats and a Golf R-style steering wheel.

An impressive feature found across the entire Golf Mk7 range is the 8.0-inch infotainment screen, but original owners could upgrade to a whopping 9.2-inch screen included in the Discover Navigation Pro option. The bigger screen features a high-resolution display for crisp, bright visuals comparable to a modern smartphone’s.

Discover Pro is a feature-packed system, incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with the DAB digital radio that all Golf models enjoy, but with the ability to be controlled via a smartphone app – useful if you’re in the back seat and can’t reach the controls. The system also features ‘gesture recognition’, whereby menus are navigated by moving your hands in front of the screen rather than physically touching it. 

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In practice you’re likely to find the system frustrating – hand gestures can be hard for the sensors to detect when you’re driving. And as gesture control takes the place of many physical buttons, you can be left not being easily able to access some of the Golf’s controls. Fortunately the  standard infotainment system is a far more straightforward affair.

A more useful piece of technology is Car-Net, a system that automatically contacts the emergency services if an airbag is deployed, or can notify you via your mobile phone if your Golf is being broken into. The car’s online support feature is handy, too – it can keep you informed of local fuel prices and parking availability while on the move, plus a host of other information.

The standard stereo is entirely satisfactory for most folk, especially as you not only have a huge range of digital radio stations to choose from but can also access the music in your smartphone. However, if you’re really into your sound quality look for a Golf fitted with the optional Dynaudio Excite pack: it won the Best Audio System award for cars under £25,000 in our Car Tech Awards 2016.

Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) is another worthwhile optional extra. Incorporating adaptive dampers – their rates of response are electronically controlled by an on-board computer – this was an expensive option when new but is very effective, allowing you to adjust the firmness of the suspension between Sport, Comfort and Normal modes to suit your mood or the road conditions.

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Front and rear parking sensors were optional on the Golf S, a rear-view camera too, and these are handy if you can find a car equipped with them. Another good find would be a Golf fitted with the optional Park Assist system – it measures parking spaces at the side of the road to find a suitable one, then takes control of the steering for parallel-parking manoeuvres.

How safe is it?

The Golf Mk7 achieved a five-star safety rating when Euro NCAP tested it, with every area of protection being rated as good, with the exception of the driver’s right leg area, which was rated as adequate. This resulted in a very high adult occupant protection score of 94%, as well as an 89% rating for child protection. Pedestrian protection was rated at 65%, while the presence of the latest safety technology is reflected in the 71% safety assist score.

Even the basic S model features airbags all-round, a post-collision braking system (which applies the brakes to stop the car being involved in a secondary accident) and a tyre-pressure warning buzzer. Optional safety kit includes things like lane-departure warning, emergency automatic braking and a pre-collision system that pre-tenses the seatbelts and closes any open windows or sunroof if it detects a collision is imminent.

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